Recent Posts by Jean-Marc Pascal

Ortega y Gasset’s Subjective Perspectivism

José Ortega y Gasset’s contribution to philosophy is manifold if one takes into account his wide-ranging essays on literary, cultural and sociological matters. The thinker’s Spanish roots gave him a unique perspective on the historical evolution of Western philosophy from the seventeenth-century onwards. If the great theologians and jurists of the Golden Age, like Francisco de Vitoria and Francesco Suarez, exerted a profound influence on a nascent imperial state, their legacy did not cross the Pyrenees to play a significant ...

On the Convergence of Two Creative Revolutions

The “Roaring Twenties” are generally associated with a period of unbridled excess after the traumatic experience of the First World War. While young Americans revelled to the syncopated rhythms of jazz music, two groups of European philosophers and artists were desperately searching for new meanings after the annihilation of all previous moral certainties.  The first group, led by the German architect Walter Gropius, set out to redefine the rules of architecture as well as craft and design. Their vision of a ...

On the Inconvenience of Being Immortal

The most fundamental premise of philosophy is our human ability to propose some reasoned answers to questions related to the meaning of life, our place in the universe and the plausibility of immortality. Long before Montaigne, ancient thinkers regarded the philosophical activity as the way to become accustomed to the idea of dying and make it part of our daily existence. After all, as Epicurus pointed out, ‘why should we be anxious about death when we will never encounter it; ...

The Philosophy of “Game of Thrones”

The global popularity of “Game of Thrones” can be partly ascribed to the many themes raised throughout the eight seasons of the American television series. Behind the first veil of medieval fantasy lurk the ghosts of Hobbes and Machiavelli and their depiction of political power as the deadliest game of chess imaginable. To conquer the ultimate position of power is one thing, but to exercise authority over a long period of time proves a tremendous challenge for the heroes of ...

Democracy and Mediocrity

Friedrich Nietzsche was particularly contemptuous of the mediocrity which, in his view, prevailed among his contemporaries. His philosophical ideal of individuals knowing themselves so thoroughly that they were able to soar above the rest of the human ‘herd’ has become offensive to our modern conception of democracy and equality. But what if democracy was inherently and inescapably a breeding ground for a type of feckless, navel-gazing individuals, wallowing in their self-confessed limitations while enjoying the benefits of a benevolent state? Nietzsche’s ...

Gaston Bachelard. Poetic Philosopher

By Friday, August 9, 2019 No tags 0

Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) is an unfairly neglected thinker who succeeded in carving himself a niche in the rich tradition of French philosophy of science. Trained as a physics and chemistry high school teacher, Bachelard took an early interest in epistemology at a time when Einstein was publicising both his theories of relativity and propounding a radically new conception of the interaction between space and time. Bachelard’s project was not to get rid of a philosophical approach of science but, on the ...

Philosophers and the Project of Perpetual Peace (2)

Immanuel Kant’s conception of perpetual peace took into account the propositions already developed by l’Abbé de Saint-Pierre and Rousseau while exploring new routes leading to the end of all possible conflicts between so-called “civilised nations”. His preoccupation with the subject was mooted in his early writings of the 1750’s and 60’s before finding a theoretical formulation in his ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’ in 1784 and his treatise ‘Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch’, published in 1795 ...

Is New Realism all that new?

Markus Gabriel is the new rising star of German Philosophy with the success of his book ‘Why the World does not Exist’, first published in 2013, a year after Maurizio Ferraris’s ‘Manifesto for a New Realism’. The thirty-nine year old Professor invites his reader to reconsider the question already raised in 1986 by Thomas Nagel in his stimulating ‘Views From Nowhere’: ‘How to combine the perspective of a particular person inside the world with an objective view of that same ...

Philosophers and the Project of Perpetual Peace (1)

The idea of a project of perpetual peace between European nations was anticipated long before the six member states of the original Economic European Union signed the Treaty of Rome in March 1957. If security and stability are often guaranteed through the agency of military force, such as the Pax Romana, long-term peace requires a deeper understanding of peoples’ aspirations and a wider perspective on what states can reasonably expect to achieve through diplomatic means.  Eighteenth-century philosophers were convinced of the ...

Michel Serres. Messenger of Knowledge

The world of philosophy has lost one of its most popular figures with the death of Michel Serres on June 1st. First attracted to a career in the French Navy, the young officer soon realised that philosophy was his true passion along with mathematics and the history of science. On the strength of his eclectic philosophical knowledge, he went on to elaborate a five-volume theory of communication under the aegis of Hermes, the Greek god of trade and commerce. Like the ...

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